Open coworking in the heart of the City
Hidden in the busy Edna Mall area of Addis Ababa is every remote worker’s paradise, a guest house with a cafe, restaurant, library and two rooftop bars. Every time I have visited this space I was looking for something different and on all occasions, I was pleasantly surprised.
The first time I came to Ambiance I was there for an evening of Saxophone renditions of the best Afro-pop songs from around the continent. The event was hosted by Sunny T, a Zimbabwean musician based in Addis Ababa. The setting, a covered rooftop bar overlooking the famous Mehdlin Ahlem Church. The lighting is dim and provided by artsy balls made of bamboo, hanging from the partially covered roof. In the darkness of the room, you can see the face of Dj Giday lit up by his laptop screen. In the darkness, you can barely make out Sunny T twirling his sax as he moves to the beat. Between the dim-lit room and the sparkling lights from the Edna mall square, this is perhaps the most unique nightlife experience you can find in all of Addis Ababa. The bar is hidden so as not to distract you from the live performance. On this night I learnt that Ambiance is not just a cool spot for live music enthusiasts to share a habesha, a chat and a killer view of a beautiful Addis Ababa church. Ambience also hosts an open coworking space, restaurant and a second rooftop bar & terrace. (add the description of the bar area and a private room for conversation away from the music)
The second time I was drawn to Ambiance was for a New years eve party hosted by DJ Cordova. This time I got to see the second rooftop overlooking the Edna mall roundabout. Before I could even notice all the lights, my attention was drawn to the hanging decorations of the rooftop. The roof is adorned with an arrangement of reed baskets cum lampshades, in the same dim-lit style as the first rooftop. The terrace is filled with the chatter of excited revellers as we casually dance and sip. The bar menu is filled with the regular international whiskies, gins and vodkas and Ethiopia’s finest beers; habesha, Walia and st George. Right next to the bar there is a BBQ stand where the smell of freshly barbecued meat emanates from. I could not choose to be anywhere other than this lovely rooftop for new years eve. When the clock struck midnight we were dazzled by the panoramic view of colourful fireworks in all directions. A true treat indeed. If you are travelling on a budget like me, a 50birr ($1.7) habesha is the right price for you t enjoy the night away.
The third time I visited Ambiance was to use the coworking space so that I could give an accurate review of the Open Space. The one thing this place gets right is the right ambience to focus and get on with work. There is a selection of soft jazz tunes playing in the background, enough to hear but far from a distraction especially for someone like me who works better with a beat in the background. Open space is open from 9 am to 8 pm for anyone who needs a relaxed environment to work and get a good internet connection. To get access to the open space, the library, unlimited internet and a bottle of water all for 150 ETB($5). Is should say my first attempt at working from here went very well, with minimal distraction and a nice rooftop to take a break and admire the mountains surrounding Addis Ababa.
Once you have gotten some work done and you need some much-needed nourishment the Ambiance restaurant menu, which is a fusion of western and habesha dishes, is worth the peek. One day you have the Shiro Bozena or a chicken wrap, couple it with mixed fruit juice or a coffee and you are all ready to get back to sending those emails or editing that business plan. The menu offers affordable bites ranging from a 30 birr($1) macchiato to a 210 birr($7) steak.
Around 5 pm in the evening, you can almost feel the pace shift as you work along. The music shifts from jazzy vibes to some afro beats. You can tell by this point that maybe its time to shut the laptop and switch over to the bar and get some Cold Gold and enjoy the sunset from any one of the rooftop terraces. If you are social you might be chatting the twilight away with a new habesha friend.
Ambiance, though its name would give an English student a heart attack, is a place of many faces of a changing ambience.